**Beware, men and women of Boston College, my fellow Eagles, this column contains spoilers, theories based on logic, ravens, photos from the set of Game of Thrones, and jokes about incest and castration, but is generally as wholesome as Hot Pie’s baked goods.
Rejoice, my watchers on the wall. Jon Snow is alive. Well, he was never really dead. Or maybe he was. Anyway, he’s coming back. He was only ever dead in our imagination, which is where he lived too I guess.
Let’s start with facts before we dip into the Spider’s ravens and whispers. On Sept. 10, Watchers on the Wall (a fan site devoted to cast news and commentary) reported that Kit Harrington was spotted filming a massive pitched battle involving the northern lords, the Boltons, and wildings. Then, in an interview in a Belgian magazine just a few days ago, Kit revealed he expects to be playing Jon Snow into his thirties. Harrington, as all Eagles must know, is 28.
It all seems to confirm what we, whether educated by maesters or Jesuits, kind of knew from the beginning. Whether he survived his moonlit stabbing by traditional means or was resurrected by Lady Melisandre shortly after his bloody demise, Jon was always gonna be there. He’s too tied up in the narrative and the audience experience to die (for now at least.)
I grew up with Jon Snow. I started reading Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin’s first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series when I was fourteen on the way to Colorado Springs for vacation. The first chapter of the book starts with Jon. He’s fourteen, a bastard. As political stabbing and maneuvering dominate the first few books alongside Dany and her dragons, Jon just kind of grows up. He finds some friends, a few mentors, and, because it’s a fantasy tale, a cool sword and a pet wolf. He meets a girl, one that isn’t his sister. It doesn’t go well. And by the time we get to Dance with Dragons, Jon is a pseudo-leader of men, the only one really standing between a host of undead ice zombies and the rest of Westeros. He knows and carries this, along with the ghosts of his dead mentors and friends who’ve fallen along the way.
That’s sort of who Jon is, but the central mysteries of the book/show concentrate on Jon (R + L = J, and all its variants). General narrative aside, merging both the book and show into the same general narrative, it never made sense for Jon to die. And Martin’s deaths always have a purpose, a lesson. And story-wise, if you want the finale to matter, to mean anything to an audience, than there have to be people we care about. We care about Jon. Jon is me.
And as the for the show, why kill off your most visceral action star? The two best episodes of the series—”The Watchers on the Wall” and “Hardhome”—featured Harrington wading his way through chaos. Harrington is biggest action star on television. He fights like Tom Cruise or Dustin Pedroia—small in stature, but, you know, he always finds a way. With so much supposed action down the road, why kill off your only compelling action hero?
Why pull a Theon and lop off its most prized member? Well, so that I’ll write this column. And so will thousands of other folks with a keyboard across the land. So we talk about it. So it all stays relevant even when you’re not settling in for an episode every Sunday. The off-season is a time to re-read the books, listen to podcasts about the Tragedy of Summerhall and the Blackfyre Rebellion (guys, am I nerd?), and to argue over Jon Snow’s fate.
This is fun. Frustrating, but fun. It makes the audience as integral to the telling of the story as Martin or Benioff and Weiss. It’s what you miss when you watch it all in a row, letting the locations and heightened dialogue wash over you as the episodes and seasons blur together. We’re still in the middle of it. And that’s the best part.
Featured Image Courtesy of Home Box Office